Posted by Liam O'Kennedy November 6, 2012 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by me & thee coffeehouse:
On Friday, December 7, the me & thee welcomes back Guggenheim Grotto, a duo that has been described as what Crosby Stills and Nash would have sounded like if they were all from Dublin. Jenee Halstead, who opens, is the voice of Spokane, Washington, devilish in a different way, free spirited and animalistic in exactly the way suggested by the title of her second album, Raised By Wolves. Doors open at 7:30 PM for this 8:00 PM show at the me & thee coffeehouse which is located at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead at 28 Mugford Street.
When Dublin alt-folk songwriters Kevin May and Mick Lynch of The Guggenheim Grotto first appeared on the U.S. scene in 2006, comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel dominated the critical landscape. With their two-part harmonies, folk-acoustic stylings and earnest pop songwriting, it seemed no one could resist. Over the past six years, however, the duo has transcended the comparison – creating rich, multi-instrumental soundscapes. They dabble in synths and effects and radiate melancholic beauty.
And sometimes they silence a room by simply harmonizing over a lone ukulele. Always, though, their songwriting is marked with a belief in the promises of the universe, a curiosity about humanity and a hopeless romanticism embodied by only the most passionate of artists and dreamers. This romanticism shines on the band’s latest album, The Universe Is Laughing. A lyrical journey through life’s beautiful mysteries, the record sees Kevin and Mick further develop themes of self-discovery and enlightenment they first visited on 2009’s Happy The Man. The Guggenheim Grotto emerged in 2005 to critical acclaim in Ireland with its debut album …Waltzing Alone when the first single “Told You So” reached No. 12 on the Irish National Airplay Charts.
Two years later The Guggenheim Grotto released Happy The Man as an iTunes exclusive in October 2008, and the album quickly rose again to No. 1 on the iTunes Folk Chart. January 2009 saw the physical release, and the band spent much of the year traversing these United States to promote it – from playing listening rooms across the country to large festivals, performing on nationally syndicated programs like E-Town in Boulder, CO and Charleston, WV’s Mountain Stage and opening dates with Ani DiFranco and They Might Be Giants.
In June 2010 The Guggenheim Grotto released its third album, The Universe Is Laughing, on United For Opportunity. The band moved to the U.S. and began a series of weekly residencies in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego that grew wildly, ending in some truly special nights with rooms packed of newly charmed fans. TGG then closed out the year performing as special guests on a 20-date national tour with Ingrid Michaelson.
Jenee Halstead grew up in the high desert of Spokane, Washington, the daughter of hippie parents who let her find her own direction. She spent her childhood exploring her mother’s garden and singing along to records with her Dad. In middle school, she transformed into the rarest of birds; an athletic choir geek who sang medieval choral works, but loved Led Zeppelin and Dolly Parton. She wrote quietly on her own for years, moving from place to place – Spokane to Seattle to nowhere Alaska, before moving to Boston in 2007.
She collected all of her songs into what would become The River Grace. Her latest album, Raised By Wolves reclaims the careless freedom of her childhood with a sense of wonder that is unique and fiercely engaging.
"I had been thinking a lot about the wild -- about instinct and intuition", Halstead says. "I knew that I wanted to capture these ideas on this album but I just wasn't sure how it would happen. Once I got to the studio and played through the songs, the answer seemed obvious."
Ditching her trademark character sketches she started over, writing in first person and swapping her guitar for piano and ukulele. The result is Raised By Wolves -- Halstead’s most personal and ambitious recording thus far. "I am still surprised by it," Halstead says. "We just followed our instincts, just like I had hoped to. Even the songs like ‘River of Doubt’, that I would've normally considered 'dark' don't seem to feel that way because there is so much energy behind them."
Tickets for the performance by Guggenheim Grotto with Jenee Halstead opening are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Tickets are available online at www.meandthee.org and can be purchased in person in Marblehead at either the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore or the Arnould Gallery As at all me & thee coffeehouse events, refreshments are available, including homemade pastries, coffee, and teas. The me & thee has a handicapped-accessible entrance and an accessible bathroom, is a smoke-free environment, and is easily reached by MBTA bus. The me & thee is the oldest continually running acoustic coffeehouse in New England, and probably the country. The me & thee has been and will always be a volunteer, non-profit organization sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead. For information and directions, call 781-631-8987 or check the website www.meandthee.org.
Next concert: January 25, 2013 – Vance Gilbert – Patti DeRosa opens